Saturday, January 4, 2014

2014: Free At Last

A new year is fresh and untarnished; a time of hope.  Shrugging off the tattered coat of 2013 and slipping into the pristine cape of 2014.

Resolutions seem silly in my mind.  But sometimes the New Year is the perfect time to try something daring, such as renting one's first-ever harp at Dusty Strings in Seattle and picking it up in two days.

The last night of 2013, we enjoyed the very best prime rib we've ever had.  This year I chose to follow the simple recipe shared by Mike Sato, a friend who also writes:  Salish Sea News and Weather  and Salish Sea Communications.  (Google them to find the links to both blogs.)

His Recipe:  Two-rib roast, salted liberally and bound with rosemary two days in advance and let sit very lightly covered in the fridge.  Let it come to room temp before putting into a 450 oven.  120 internal meat temp - after about an hour - is medium rare.  Then LET IT SIT for at least 30 minutes before carving.  (If you have questions, as I did, ask Mike in the comment section of his blogs).


I made a bit of sauce from the drippings:  butter, flour, beef bouillon, cream, dash of Worcestershire.  Heavenly!  Thank you Mike Sato.

With that kind of send-off, 2014 had to be a winner right off the bat.  Especially since, as the year ended, I felt fantastic -- the best I've felt in my life.  Wake up happy; go to bed happy.  Happy, happy, happy.

Except, as luck would have it, I committed to two daughters that I'd go sugar-free and gluten-free for the whole month of January.

The first daughter (let's call her Suggie) is a Certified Health Coach who is wonderfully healthy and fantastically fit.  She has claimed for years that if I would eliminate sugar from my diet, I would feel better.

The second daughter (let's call her Gluttie) has been eating gluten-free for maybe two years, and has been a real pain to cook for when she visits.  When I find a gluten-free recipe, I rejoice.  She also eats little sugar, and has been peddling her dietary discoveries since the beginning.  A woman on a mission.

Yet this time Gluttie got me with her compelling story about her amazing recovery from being sick to running marathons.  She, too, looks healthy, glowing and fit; and did indeed run 2 marathons in 2013.

Resisting doing the "gluten-free" thing for me was easy.  It was the latest food fad to hit the market.  Gluten-free products were sold everywhere, always pricey, tasted like crap, and there is no test to determine if a person is, in fact, gluten intolerant.  People simply try it and either give up or have some kind of epiphany with amazing results.  For all I know, they also enjoy "special" brownies since the key ingredient is now sold legally in Washington.

Resisting the sugar-free approach to life was simply unachievable because I love Sweet Things!  Starting each day, I derive such pleasure from every sip of my strong French Roast coffee with 1 packet of Sweet 'n Low and a generous amount of Lucerne's Cinnamon Vanilla Creamer.  Ambrosia.

How could I possibly ease into the mornings, as is my way of greeting the day, without my single cup of heavenly coffee?  I could not.  So why even say you'll give it a try when you know you'll screw it up first thing in the morning?

Plus I add sugar to things that already have sugar, like Ragu Sauce that I use for chili, spaghetti, lasagna.  Tomato-saucy things that are sweet instead of acidic simply taste better to me.
We serve special guests Dungeness Crab that we acquire live and The Husband cooks them in a big propane cooker in the barn.  To accompany that huge platter of steamy warm crab is French bread, a green salad, and a bowl of my to-die-for Homemade 1,000 Island Dressing ... to which I add sugar.  Quite a bit of sugar, actually.  I always make a Crab Louie for The Husband, which he enhances with large amounts of my dressing. 
Then we always end the meal with something chocolate, because crab must be followed by chocolate.  It's a Haase Family Tradition.
By now you get the picture.  Choosing to eat gluten-free is stupid (in my humble opinion) and choosing to eat sugar-free is impossible. 
And yet ... late at night on Christmas Eve, I committed to do both because of Suggie and Gluttie.  There are only two possible reasons I can think of for making such a ridiculous commitment to these two young, healthy, beautiful women.
The first reason is that I was enjoying the last of my second (or possibly third) Harvey Wallbanger: a healthy drink made with Grey Goose Vodka, Vitamin C, D, and calcium enriched orange juice, and topped with Galliano, an Italian sweet liqueur that contains vanilla, star anise, and other herbal ingredients.  If it's herbal and vitamin rich ... it's a healthy way to toast the Merry in Christmas. 
The second reason is they both promised I would feel ever so much better by the end of the 31 days.  When you're 68, delightfully happy late at night on the best Christmas Eve you've ever had, even the remotest possibility to feel even better is very tantalizing.
Well ... let me just say, it is a good thing neither of these Healthy Hucksters is close by.  One of them is in Peru at the moment, and the other one is hidden in the bowels of Costco.  Not that I'm vindictive ... but I feel terrible.
I'm sure they both doubted I would even remember the commitment let alone actually do it all the way:  no sugar or gluten for 31 days.
Ah, how the strength and vitality of the young underestimate the tenacity and discipline of the old.  Especially the "Old One" who quit smoking 18 years ago, cold turkey, and has been nicotine-free ever since.  My guess is that neither Suggie nor Gluttie have any concept of how hard it is to say you're "nicotine-free." 
Looking back on making this New Year's Commitment, I should have done some research.  Like ... what products (besides the obvious ones) actually contain sugar and gluten?  I didn't do that.
Instead, I savored every bite of that fabulous prime rib on New Year's Eve, with my last glass of lovely Prosecco, and dreamed of playing "O Mio Babbino Caro" on my new harp.
My New Year's Day started off with coffee that tasted like motor oil.  Apparently without the addition of the sweet creamer, the taste of Sweet 'n Low is awful.  I choked down half of it and realized I was in serious trouble here ... with my reputation on the line.
The only thing that saved my sanity on Day 1 was the fortuitous discovery that Vodka and Coke Zero are both sugar and gluten free!
Stay tuned ... there will be more to the story as the month unfolds.


  1. That's a hard challenge you've set yourself! I think moderation is the real key, going totally sugar or gluten free is fine if you need to do so for medical reasons, but otherwise, just be sensible, enjoy your food but don't overindulge

  2. You've set yourself a rough challenge, and your children should never have let you do it.

    I've cut back on gluten and on sugar, but haven't eliminated them. It'd be hard. I avoid bread, because I actually don't digest it well anymore; but I do eat pasta from time to time, because it goes down easy and I don't regret it after.

    Sugar I backed off on after watching a hair-raising video lecture from a UC scientist who blamed excessive sucrose, not fatty foods, for increases in obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and so on after the last 30 years.

    If you want some sweet in your diet, I suggest adding sweet potatoes or yams to your dinner menu. They have sugar, but so much fiber that the sugar only breaks down slowly and so there's really no harm. Nothing wrong with unsweetened apple sauce with your pork chops, either, though stay away from juices.

    I'll never give up sugar completely, though. It'd mean I could never eat chocolate again!

  3. BL. if you want a non-sugar sweetener for your coffee, I highly recommend a product called Monkfruit in the Raw. It is all natural, calorie and carb-free, and tastes very much like actual sugar. I use it all the time. Here's some info on it: